So parents don’t like No Child Left Behind. They don’t like Common Core. They don’t like their children’s sagging test scores. They don’t like Wyoming’s mediocre graduation rate.

And so what is it, Wyoming?

It seems like every standard proposed by the state or federal departments of education is met with fierce resistance and talk of conspiracy.

Some in Wyoming believe education is slowly being turned over to a monolithic federal government. Others fear a United Nations plot.

Yet it’s troubling that every time standards are proposed and measurements (read: tests) required, Wyoming balks.

It’s easy to blame federal programs. To blame teaching to test. To blame teachers themselves.

But the truth is: Wyoming students are not performing.

More pointedly: Wyoming students are not performing in line with the fact that the state is among the biggest spenders per pupil in the nation.

It doesn’t make sense to relax or even toss out the standards we have just because some people believe the requirements (read: expectations) are some kind of government plot.

In order for Wyoming to truly be competitive and achieve great things, it must have a well-educated workforce.

Just mumbling something about local control won’t improve student results.

The only hope for Wyoming education is loftier standards and higher expectations, not less.

Speaking of expectations, how many parents take seriously the role they play in their child’s education? Too many of these same people who question the motivations behind standards and blame educators for poor student performance are just empty seats at back-to-school nights and parent-teacher conferences.

Frankly, it’s sad that one Casper area elementary school dutifully, but admirably, resorted to calling every parent and, if possible, their employer about parent-teacher conference schedules in order to enhance attendance, according to an earlier Star-Tribune story.

Parents must pay attention: Big changes are coming for education in Wyoming. And we’re not just talking about the new governor-appointed director of the Department of Education position now held by Rich Crandall.

According to a recent story by Star-Tribune education reporter Leah Todd, a new education accountability system in the works at the Wyoming Department of Education would hold schools accountable to a state-developed set of performance standards starting in the spring of 2015.

The new system is the rough equivalent of the federal accountability measures outlined in the No Child Left Behind Act. It would place Wyoming schools in one of four performance categories each year: exceeding expectations, meeting expectations, partially meeting expectations, not meeting expectations.

The plan would measure more than just student achievement, Todd reported. Such factors as student growth, student readiness and a school’s equity in dealing with at-risk or low-achieving students will all play into the equations used to determine a school’s achievement category, which in turn will trigger interventions from the state Department of Education in low-performing schools.

Schools failing to meet expectations will be required to report to the state Department of Education about why they failed and what steps the school is taking to help accelerate student performance, as the proposal is now written. If a school doesn’t meet expectations for two or more consecutive years, the legislation says, a state assistance team will develop turn-around strategies for each under-performing school.

We all must keep a keen eye on how the plan develops and is implemented. And provide constructive criticism (read: no conspiracy theories).

The goal, of course, is to set expectations for educators and students to meet. The ultimate goal is to create a climate in which Wyoming students prosper.

What lawmakers can’t legislate are expectations for parents.

And so what is it, Wyoming?

(11) comments

Foster
Foster

You have hit the name on the head. Parents need to be involved; they need to quit saying it is the teachers fault or someone else's fault; own up and take responsibility. It doesn't matter what program or programs you do, if the parents and students aren't engaged nothing changes. We have raised a society of entitled kids....they think it should be just handed to them...doesn't work like that. Thanks CST.

side oiler
side oiler

But it has worked like that for the last 40 years,thanks to the Gloria Stienham crowd.

SteveL
SteveL

The tag line at the end of the article is incorrect. Our lawmakers can legislate parental expectations. I am not saying this is a good idea, but they certainly legislate reams of expectations ranging from when I can shoot a deer and how fast I can drive to Laramie. That is what they do - organize society. If I recall, this organization of society is called civilization. I think the editorial staff is dead on with their ideas about conspiracy theories. I love one of our former school superintendent's rules - never suspect conspiracy when mere incompetence is a rival explanation. When our community values education enough to support it in more than sound bites and throwing money around - when we really care - change will happen.

TeaPublican
TeaPublican

We TeaPublicans agree with one of our leading Republican spokespersons Tony Perkins when he said “if a foreign enemy had plotted to infiltrate America, I’m not sure any army of undercover subversives could have done more damage than our government-run schools… Leftists don’t want a single American child to escape their thought control. And they are crowding out true education….Today’s science classes often feature big-government political propaganda, taking time and focus away from true science. Not to mention attacks on the Bible and arrogant censoring of any theories like intelligent design that challenge their Darwinism. Don’t you parents realize that your public school teachers are trying to stomp out “true science” like intelligent design? And Tony Perkins is RIGHT when he said there is “Not enough teaching on the virtues of limited government and free enterprise.” Don’t you people understand, just like in Texas, we TeaPublicans want public schools teaching our kids only from a list of subjects approved by us! We TeaPublicans are not going to let up on our “War on Public Schools” until they are totally abolished! We TeaPublicans ARE taking back our America in 2014 and 2016 and we will take back our schools too! Pink Floyd was RIGHT: We don’t need no education…We don’t need no thought control…No dark sarcasm in the classroom…Teacher, leave them kids alone! “P n P” in 2016…yes it is going to happen. Perry n Palin in 2016!

side oiler
side oiler

Just what the hey is a teapublican? Some sort of phony RINO offshoot?

side oiler
side oiler

Anyone who even remotely thinks failn palin is a candidate for anything needs some serious mental help.She already showed her colors and they run like hot Karo syrup.

just sayin'
just sayin'

Are you sure you want Texas as your education model?
In 2010, Texas was in ranked 51st in the nation (including Puerto Rico) in high school graduation rates. In 2011, Texas students ranked 49th in the nation on the verbal portion and 46th on the math section of the SAT college preparatory exam.

Sample307
Sample307

My wife and I are interested in small Christian/classical schools for our young kids, but we've found that such schools have had tremendous problems getting started and raising enough money. So far, the Wyoming public schools have been ok for initial elementary school, but I'm worried that it will be more challenging as my kids get older.

IdrahaJe
IdrahaJe

I spent many hours as a volunteer at a school in another state. Unfortunately, the comment that " Too many of these same people who question the motivations behind standards and blame educators for poor student performance are just empty seats at back-to-school nights and parent-teacher conferences." is right on. Sadly, even though some parents seem to be doing the parent teacher conferences, and other school related activity, once they get home, it' all for naught. They are too exhausted from life to do much.

pappy
pappy

It is a little hard for the parents and other interested people to be involved when The Dept of Education and the local school boards don't make some effort to inform them what is going on. A recent meeting on Common Core sponsored by the Park County Republican women Admitted that the public was not very well informed. Senator Coe showed up made some remarks about how this was all a Dept of Education issue and left before he could be questioned. There was no one there from the Department of Education to make remarks or answer questions, so the local school members took the brunt of it. If you want to dispell rumors then you need to be open to the public and keep them informed. This may very well be a good program but the Department of Education and local school boards dropped the ball. The public has a right to know what is happening and why. They should be allowed to provide input. If that happens there would be buy in into this program and without public buy in this program is doomed.

ejohnson74
ejohnson74

Got to agree on the parent involvement however it seems there is a lot more than that. Political maneuvering got in the way of education a long time ago, and not for the better. In order for a state to get in on the big cash giveaway from the Feds these idiotic programs have to be implemented. The State of Wyoming is in the top of the spending on students, averaging about 13,000.00 per student per year yet we post mediocre scores and have a high dropout rate. By what is available to each student we should be producing Doctors, scientists, statesmen, and the like yet we have not even come close. Average to below average is what we get in our schools. Cindy Hill got jettisoned because she didn't keep up with the most important thing, keeping these statistics up for the Feds which could have caused Wyoming to take huge cuts in the great money giveaway for the "no child left behind" pant load program. At the end of the day it's all about the Federal buck, not the kids. Wyoming puts it in the fund pork barrel, teachers don't care because of tenure and the big loser are our kids

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